Greetings. I am new to this forum, and found it when questioning what I should expect with my first slab of bacon.
I am not a total newbie to smoked meats or sausage, but this is my first stab at a slab. I bought a beautiful full belly from a local butcher-packer and started curing the same day.
I used Rytek Kutas's recipe for Honey-Cured Bacon from "Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing". The ingredients are 1 slab of pork belly, 1 cup salt, 4 TBS Insta-cure #1, and 2 cups of honey. After tasting the mix with one cup of honey, I substituted one packed cup of brown sugar and a tablespoon of dark molasses for the second cup of honey to temper the cloying sweetness of aged, condensed clover honey. A taste before mixing in the cure yielded a nice salt-sugar balance. I rubbed the cure deeply into the slab and placed it in a two gallon ziplock bag in the fridge, and have been turning it over at least daily.
The slab has been in the cure for four days now, and the meaty areas are for the most part firm, the thickest portion still has a ways to go. But I had to try a sample...so I took a slice off the thin edge of the slab and fried it up, knowing it would not have the smoked flavor but I still expected it to taste like something desirable...
What I got was a salty and sweet and not crispy slice of cooked meat that left carmelized residue in the bottom of the pan.
Can anyone comment on what I should have experienced at this stage of the process? Is it normal, or is it hopeless?
Now that I've found this forum, the next slab will be cured with one of the recipes found here.
One thing I see is a lack of consensus on smoking bacon, whether a really cold smoke < 100F is preferred, or smoke-cooking to 150F? I have a cabinet smoker in which I can hang the slab on a bacon hanger, and can cold or hot smoke with my cold-smoke adaptation.